Variety reports that multimedia writer Ira Levin, best known for penning the novel ROSEMARY'S BABY, died of a heart attack Monday in New York City at the age of 78. BABY (only Levin's second book, published in 1967), about a woman who slowly discovers that her neighbors in her new Manhattan apartment building are planning for her to bear the son of Satan, inspired the classic cinematic chiller released the following year. It boosted the careers of director Roman Polanski and star Mia Farrow and won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Ruth Gordon (Polanski himself got a nomination for his adapted screenplay), and to this day remains a touchstone for filmmakers aiming to achieve subtle, "quiet" horror. It was followed by the 1976 TV-movie sequel LOOK WHAT'S HAPPENED TO ROSEMARY'S BABY; in 1997, Levin wrote his own follow-up tome, SON OF ROSEMARY.
Numerous other Levin works have been adapted to the big screen, including his debut novel A KISS BEFORE DYING (filmed twice, in 1956 and 1991); THE STEPFORD WIVES, about a small town whose women are programmed to be perfect docile servants (made into a serious movie in 1975 and a satirical one in 2004); the modern Nazi thriller THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL (filmed in 1978, with a remake currently being mooted) and the high-rise murder mystery SLIVER (the basis for the 1993 Sharon Stone vehicle). He also penned the hit Broadway play DEATHTRAP (also turned into a film, in 1982) and episodes of the early TV suspensers LIGHTS OUT and ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS.